Riding in town requires lots of awareness

Riding in town requires lots of awareness


New Rider: Riding in town

By Liam Marsden -

Riding Skills

 13 October 2008 16:53

Town and city roads can be some of the most difficult and hazardous for bike and scooter riders.

If you use your bike for commuting everyday then chances are you’re already doing a fair bit of town riding. It really is very different to being out on the open road.

Here, Chris Richards of BSM Silverstone (0845 300 3245) gives us his top tips on staying safe on city streets.

• Stay in a responsive gear. Riding in a responsive gear is vital. Most riders will tend to ride in a higher gear to keep the revs down, but this means you may not have have sufficient throttle response should you need it.

“You’ll want to be in a nice responsive gear should anything happen and you need to accelerate out of the way. If you notice something in your mirrors and it looks like it’s coming towards you, then a responsive gear will get you out of danger quick enough,” advises Chris.

“Also if you have to suddenly stop you don’t have to change down as many gears, to get going again, which can be a awkward if you have to move again very quickly.”

• Cover the clutch lever and brake pedal. It might sound obvious, but keeping your hands or feet over the controls can stop you panic braking and locking the front wheel should something happen.

“I would say keep your fingers over the clutch and your foot over the rear brake lever. “Hovering over the clutch will mean if you have to make an emergency stop you shouldn’t stall the bike.

“I would say don’t cover the front brake because from experience when you do this and have to brake you tend to keep the throttle on, so just stick to covering the back brake and clutch.”

• Position yourself for a good view. If you’re behind a large vehicle like a van or a bus, then they’re going to struggle to see you if you sit directly behind them, so alter your position. Chris says: “When riding behind larger vehicles you should alter your position for maximum observation and so they can see you.

"Generally it is best to drop back a little more than you normally would so the driver can see you in both mirrors. You have to position yourself to be seen.”

• Keep an eye out for pedestrians and parked cars. Another tip that you may think is obvious, but keeping an eye out between parked cars could give you that split-second you need for when that pedestrian steps out without looking

“Definitely keep an eye out for pedestrians stepping out between parked cars,” explained Chris. “Also if a bus has stopped at a bus stop go steady because people tend to cross the road in front of the bus where they can’t see what is coming from behind the bus.

“Look under taller parked vehicles to see if you can see feet, that could be an indication pedestrians are about to step out.”

• Awareness is key. You need to know what is ahead of you and where you want to go, but you also need to know what is behind you and remember what you’ve overtaken.

"If you overtook a cyclist and look in your mirrors to find he isn’t there then where has he gone? Did he turn off, or is he about to undertake you and cut you up?” says Chris, “Also look out for any clues possible, use reflections in shop windows to see round things and look at where peoples hands are on their steering wheel, this could offer clues to where they want to go.”

If you are a new or inexperienced rider and have any questions about riding or techniques that you would like us to cover in future columns, then contact Liam Marsden at liam.marsden@motorcyclenews.com and we’ll do our best to help.

New Rider is presented in association with Just Motorcycle Insurance.